The golden fleece and sea silk are the rarest textiles/fabrics around the world.
The golden fleece
The vicuna occupies an important place in the heart and soul of Peru. The llama’s smaller, more elegant relative is the country’s national animal and graces its flag, coat of arms and coins. At the height of the Inca Empire, roughly two million vicunas roamed the Andes Altiplano, the desolate, wind-swept plateau that stretches from southern Peru to northern Argentina.
Incas believed vicuna had special powers: killing them was forbidden. And only Inca nobility was allowed to wear garments made of cloth woven from the vicuna’s extraordinarily fine, cinnamon-colored coat. That golden fleece, coveted by man for centuries, nearly led to the species extinction – and ultimately became its salvation.
The Sea silk
Byssus, or sea silk, is one of the most coveted materials in the world – but after more than 1000 years in the same matrilineal family tree. Byssus art is an exceptional tradition kept safe by women who preserved it by transmitting this tradition to other women in their family tree. Now, Chiara Vigo, from Sardina, seems to be the last sea silk weaver alife. Chiara always says that ” gifts from the sea cannot be traded” so her art is never bought. The silk used is a fiber provided by Pinna Nobilis, a mollusk in risk of extinction, such as this artisan tradition. References to this tradition might be found in the Bible.